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Sunday, November 23, 2008


Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Blue (1901–1904) · Rose (1904–1906) · African (1907–1909) · Cubism (1910–1919)

Lists of works: 1889-1900 · 1901-1910 · 1911-1920 · 1921-1930 · 1931-1940 · 1941-1950 · 1951-1960 · 1961-1970 · 1971-1973

Artworks: Chicago Picasso · Dora Maar au Chat · Femme aux Bras Croisés ·Garçon à la pipe · Guernica · Jacqueline · Le Rêve · Les Demoiselles d'Avignon · Les Noces de Pierrette · Maya with Doll · Nude on a black armchair · The Old Guitarist · Reading the Letter · Seated circus performer and boy · Sylvette · The Three Dancers · Three Musicians · The Weeping Woman · Woman in Hat and Fur Collar · Portrait of Suzanne Bloch

Les femmes de Pablo Picasso - The women of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Garçon à la pipe 1905

$104.2 Million

Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe) is a painting by Pablo Picasso. It was painted in 1905 when Pablo Picasso was 24 years old, during his Rose Period, soon after he settled in the Montmartre section of Paris, France. The oil on canvas painting depicts a Parisian (a person from Paris) boy holding a pipe in his left hand and wearing a garland or wreath of flowers.

Dora Maar au Chat 1941

$95.2 Million

Dora Maar au Chat (Dora Maar with Cat) is a 1941 painting by Pablo Picasso. It depicts Dora Maar (Henriette Théodora Markovich - Dora Maar (1907-1997) ), the painter's Croatian mistress, seated on a chair with a small cat perched on her shoulders. This painting is world-famous and is now one of the world's most expensive paintings.[1]

Picasso fell in love with the 29-year old Maar at the age of 55 and soon began living with her. This painting was done during the year 1941, when the Nazis were occupying France.

Dora Maar au Chat presents the artist's most mysterious and challenging mistress regally posed three-quarter length in a large wooden chair with a small black cat perched behind her in both an amusing and menacing attitude. The faceted planes of her body and richly layered surface of brushstrokes impart a monumental and sculptural quality to this portrait. The painting is also remarkable for its brilliance of colour and the complex and dense patterning of the model's dress. The powerful figure is set in a dramatic, yet simple setting composed of a vertiginously inclined plane of wooden floorboards and shallow interior space that is arranged in a manner reminiscent of Picasso’s earliest manipulations of space in a cubist manner.

Dora Maar au Chat is one of Picasso’s most valued depictions of his lover and artistic companion. Their partnership had been one of intellectual exchange and intense passion -- Dora was an artist, spoke Picasso’s native Spanish, and shared his political concerns. She even assisted with the execution of the monumental Guernica and produced the only photo-documentary of the work in progress. She was an intellectual force – a characteristic that both stimulated and challenged Picasso and her influence on him resulted in some of his most powerful and daring portraits of his 75-year career. Among the best of them are the oils completed during the late 1930s and early 1940s, when Picasso’s art resonated with the drama and emotional upheaval of the era and which Dora came to personify. The luminous Dora Maar au Chat was painted in 1941, at the beginning of the Second World War in France .

Maar was one of the most influential figures in Picasso’s life during their relationship and she also became his primary model. By the time he painted the present picture he had incorporated Dora Maar’s image into countless versions of this motif. During the occupation of Paris by the Nazis, and as tension mounted in their relationship, the artist would express his frustration by furiously abstracting her image, often portraying her in tears. While the present portrait might seem a departure from Picasso's more hostile depictions of this model, it may be one of his most brilliant and biting provocations of his Weeping Woman. Picasso once likened Maar’s allure and temperament to that of an “Afghan cat”, and the cat in this picture is laden with significance. In the history of art, the pairing of cats and women was an allusion to feminine wiles and sexual aggression, as exemplified in Manet’s notorious Olympia. It is also interesting to consider that the artist has paid particular attention to the sharp, talon-like nails on the long fingers of his model. In life Maar’s well-manicured hands were one of her most beautiful and distinctive features, and here they have taken on another, more violent characteristic.

In addition to being a rare, three-quarter length portrait of Dora Maar, the present work is also a generous and painterly composition with an extraordinary attention to detail. The artist used an extraordinarily vibrant palette in his rendering of the angles of the chair and the patterning of Maar’s dress. The most embellished and symbolic element of the sitter’s wardrobe in this picture is her hat, Maar’s most famous accessory and signifier of her involvement in the Surrealist movement. Ceremoniously placed atop her head like a crown, it is festooned with colourful plumes and outlined with a band of vibrant red. Larger than life, an impression enhanced by her vibrant body that cannot be confined by the boundaries of the chair, Maar looms in this picture like a pagan goddess seated on her throne.

"Mystery Bidder Spends $95 Million on a Picasso", Carol Vogel, New York Times, May 4, 2006.

"Picasso's 'Dora Maar au Chat' Sells for $95.2 Mln at Sotheby's", Lindsay Pollock and Philip Boroff,, May 3, 2006.

"Pablo Picasso Portrait of Dora Maar brings $95,216,000 at Sotheby's",, May 4, 2006.

"Recognize This Man? The Art World Doesn't", Carol Vogel, New York Times, May 6, 2006.

The Hunt for the Red Collector, Marc Spiegler, New York Magazine, Aug 26, 2006

Who is the mystery buyer of the $95m Picasso?, Telegraph, Sept 3 2006.

Sotheby's: About the painting and its features

Sotheby's: Full story of the auction on 3rd May 2006, New York

Femme aux Bras Croisés 1902

$55.0 Million

Femme aux Bras Croisés (Woman with Folded Arms), is a painting by Pablo Picasso done in 1902 during his Blue Period. The subject of the painting is unknown, but may be an inmate of the Saint-Lazare hospital-prison in Paris.[1]

In her book Pablo Picasso, Antonina Vallentin devotes a great deal of time to writing about the haunting qualities of this painting. She describes her views of the subject as an inmate, who recently attempted suicide and now carries the blank but menacing stare of those unfortunates who found themselves at Saint-Lazare during the early 1900s.[2]

Melikian, Souren (2000-11-10). "AUCTIONS : A Picasso Record", International Herald Tribune.

Vallentin, Antonina (1957). Pablo Picasso. A. Michel, 69.

"Picasso for sale - a snip at £16m", BBC News Online (2000-09-15).

Femme assise dans un jardin 1938

$49.6 Million

Les Noces de Pierrette 1905

Les Noces de Pierrette is a 1905 painting created by Spanish artist and sculptor, Pablo Picasso. Its title translates as "The marriage of Pierrette" and was created during Picasso's Blue Period; a time when he faced continual depression from the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas in 1901 as well as continual poverty early in his career.

$49.3 Million

Le Rêve [10] 1932

$48.4 Million

Le Rêve (The Dream in French) is a 1932 oil painting (130 x 97 cm) by the 50-year old Pablo Picasso portraying his 24-year old mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter. It is said to have been painted in one afternoon, on January 24, 1932. It belongs to Picasso's period of distorted depictions, with its oversimplified outlines and contrasted colors resembling early Fauvism.

The erotic content of the painting has been noted repeatedly, with critics pointing out that Picasso painted an erect penis, presumably symbolizing his own, in the upturned face of his model.[1]

Kelly Devine Thomas. Say It with Flowers—or Gourds, Goats, Fur Cups, or Fried, ARTNews, September 2006

Lee Rosenbaum "Dr. Gachet" sighting: it WAS Flöttl!, CultureGrrl, Jan 26, 2007

Marc Spiegler. Vom Traum zum Alptraum,, 17 January 2007

Nora Ephron. My Weekend in Vegas, The Huffington Post, 16 October 2006.

Nick Paumgarten. The $40-million elbow, The New Yorker, 23 October 2006

Complaint of Wynn against Lloyd's, The Smoking Gun

David Glovin. Wynn Settles Insurance Suit With Lloyd's Over a Torn Picasso, Bloomberg, 23 March 2007

Yo, Picasso 1901

$47.85 Million

Au Lapin Agile 1904

"In Lapin Agile or Harlequin with a Glass"

$40.7 Million

Acrobate et jeune Arlequin [9] 1905

$38.5 Million

Nude on a black armchair (Nu au Fauteuil Noir) 1932

45.1 million

Nude in a Black Armchair (Nu au Fauteuil Noir) is a portrait painted by Pablo Picasso on March, 9, 1932[1] of his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter (1909-1977). It is currently owned by Les Wexner, founder of Limited Brands. It was sold for 45.1 million USD in 1999. Wexner donated the piece to the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University. He provided major funding for the center. Former Museum of Modern Art curator William Rubin deemed it a "squishy sexual toy,"[2] with other critics describing a theme of fecundity being mutually displayed by both the female figure and the plant.[2] The first and the largest of a series of 1932 Marie-Thérèse Walter portraits, Picasso lived outside of Paris, in Boisgeloup, at the time.[1]

Guernica 1937

Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso, showing the Nazi German bombing of Guernica, Spain, by twenty-eight bombers, invited by leader of the coup Fascist General Francisco Franco on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War (17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939), an attempted coup d'état committed by parts of the army against the government of the Second Spanish Republic. The attack killed between 250 and 1,600 people, and many more were injured.

The Spanish rulers commissioned Pablo Picasso to create a large mural for the Spanish display at the Paris International Exposition (the 1937 World's Fair in Paris). The Guernica bombing inspired Picasso. Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering war inflicts upon individuals. This monumental work has eclipsed the bounds of a single time and place, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace. On completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. Within fifteen days of the attack, Pablo Picasso began painting this mural. This tour brought the Spanish civil war to the world's attention.

Guernica is of remarkable size, solely black and white, 3.5 metre (11 ft) tall and 7.8 metre (25.6 ft) wide, a mural-size canvas painted in oil. Picasso's purpose in painting it was not to create the non-representational abstraction typical of some of his contemporaries, such as Kazimir Malevich. Guernica presents a scene of death, violence, brutality, suffering, and helplessness without portraying their immediate causes. The choice to paint in black and white conveys the chronological nearness of a newspaper photograph and the lifelessness war affords.

Guernica depicts suffering people, animals, and buildings wrenched by violence and chaos.

The overall scene is within a room where, at an open end on the left, a wide-eyed bull stands over a woman grieving over a dead child in her arms.

The centre is occupied by a horse falling in agony as it had just been run through by a spear or javelin. The shape of a human skull forms the horse's nose and upper teeth.

Two "hidden" images formed by the horse appear in Guernica (illustrated to the right):

A human skull overlays the horse's body.

A bull appears to gore the horse from underneath. The bull's head is formed mainly by the horse's entire front leg which has the knee on the ground. The leg's knee cap forms the head's nose. A horn appears within the horse's breast.

The bulls tail forms the image of a flame with smoke rising from it, seemingly appearing in a window created by the lighter shade of gray surrounding it.

Under the horse is a dead, apparently dismembered soldier, his hand on a severed arm still grasps a shattered sword from which a flower grows.

A light bulb blazes in the shape of an eye over the suffering horse's head (the bare bulb of the torturer's cell.)

To the upper right of the horse, a frightened female figure, who seems to be witnessing the scenes before her, appears to have floated into the room through a window. Her arm, also floating in, carries a flame-lit lamp.

From the right, an awe-struck woman staggers towards the center below the floating female figure. She looks up blankly into the blazing light bulb.

Daggers that suggest screaming replace the tongues of the bull, grieving woman, and horse.

A bird, possibly a dove, stands on a shelf behind the bull in panic.

On the far right, a figure with arms raised in terror is entrapped by fire from above and below.

A dark wall with an open door defines the right end of the mural.

There are stigmata (the supposed marks on the hands of those who have "suffered as Jesus") on the hands of the dead soldier. Picasso was not religious, although he was brought up in the predominantly Catholic Spain, and these symbols are not to be interpreted as Christian identification.[citation needed] This, instead, reflects the idea that all of us suffer often without cause.[citation needed] Here Picasso is using a well recognisable image to demonstrate how we are all like Christ, in that we all suffer and eventually die.[citation needed]

Symbolism in Guernica

Interpretations of Guernica vary widely and contradict one another. This extends, for example, to the mural's two dominant elements: the bull and the horse. Art historian Patricia Failing said, "The bull and the horse are important characters in Spanish culture. Picasso himself certainly used these characters to play many different roles over time. This has made the task of interpreting the specific meaning of the bull and the horse very tough. Their relationship is a kind of ballet that was conceived in a variety of ways throughout Picasso's career."

When pressed to explain them in Guernica, Picasso said, "...this bull is a bull and this horse is a horse... If you give a meaning to certain things in my paintings it may be very true, but it is not my idea to give this meaning. What ideas and conclusions you have got I obtained too, but instinctively, unconsciously. I make the painting for the painting. I paint the objects for what they are."[1]

In "The Dream and Lie of Franco," a series of narrative sketches also created for the World's Fair, Franco is depicted as a monster that first devours his own horse and later does battle with an angry bull. Work on these illustrations began before the bombing of Guernica, and four additional panels were added, three of these relate directly to the Guernica mural.

Picasso said as he worked on the mural: “The Spanish struggle is the fight of reaction against the people, against freedom. My whole life as an artist has been nothing more than a continuous struggle against reaction and the death of art. How could anybody think for a moment that I could be in agreement with reaction and death? ... In the panel on which I am working, which I shall call Guernica, and in all my recent works of art, I clearly express my abhorrence of the military caste which has sunk Spain in an ocean of pain and death.”[2]

A 3D Exploration of Picasso's Guernica

Guernica - Zoomable version.

Art Opposes Injustice! — Picasso's Guernica: For Life by Dorothy Koppelman

Guardian: Picasso's Guernica Battle Lives On April 26 2007

PBS Treasures of the World - Guernica: Testimony of War

Picasso's "Secret" Guernica

Socialist Worker: Guernica: Shock and Awe in Paint April 24 2007

The New Yorker: Spanish Lessons, Picasso in Madrid by Peter Schjeldahl, June 19 2006

The Painting, Guernica by Julián Ríos, October 2004

The Roots of Modern Art: Guernica @ The Galilean Library

Toronto Star: The Lessons of Guernica by William Walker, February 9 2003

X-ray Shows Picasso's Guernica Painting has Suffered a lot but is not in Danger Associated Press, July 23 2008

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